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Three Democratic Senators Want FBI to Evaluate National Security Risks at Mar-a-Lago

Mar-a-Lago (Facebook photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Three Democratic senators want the FBI to evaluate the national security risks at Mar-a-Lago in wake of the recent arrest there of a Chinese national,  Mother Jones reports.

Yujing Zhang had allegedly gained entry to Donald Trump’s private resort while carrying electronics that included a thumb drive containing malware.

“This latest incident raises very serious questions regarding security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago, which foreign intelligence services have reportedly targeted,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The apparent ease with which Ms. Zhang gained access to the facility during the President’s weekend visit raises concerns about the system for screening visitors, including the reliance on determinations made by Mar-a-Lago employees.”

Mueller’s Investigators Tell Associates Report More Troubling Than Barr Portrayed

AG William Barr

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

And so the plot thickens.

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that the findings in the Mueller report were more troubling than Attorney General William P. Barr let on in his summary, the New York Times reports.

That revelation will only emboldened Democrats in Congress to push Barr to provide them with an unredacted version of the report.

The Times goes on to write:

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

 

Thomas Brandon, ATF’s Top Official, Retiring

Acting head of ATF Thomas Brandon.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thomas Brandon, who led ATF since 2015, is retiring, the website The Trace reports.  Brandon will step down on April 30.

“Deputy Director Brandon has faithfully served ATF for 30 years, starting as a Special Agent in 1989,” ATF spokesperson Bradley Engelbert said in an emailed statement to the new site. “He has earned his retirement.”

Brandon, a career agent,  filled the top spot but never nominated as director. So, at some point, even though he remained the top official, he was given the title of deputy director.

No replacement has been named. Last November, Politico reported that Chuck Canterbury, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police, was being considered for the position.

Who Was the Mysterious Chinese Woman at Mar-a-Lago?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service says a Chinese woman carrying four cell phones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive, and a thumb drive containing malware tried to get into President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort Saturday while the president was golfing nearby, NBC reports.

The Secret Service issued a statement Tuesday night:

“The Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity,” the agency said in a statement. “The Mar-a-Lago club management determines which members and guests are granted access to the property. This access does not afford an individual proximity to the President or other Secret Service protectees.”

Comey Says To Give Barr Benefit of the Doubt, But Questions His Call on Obstruction

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr deserves “the benefit of the doubt,” but questioned Barr’s decision on whether President Donald Trump had committed obstruction of justice.

“Bill Barr, our attorney general, deserves the benefit of the doubt,” Comey told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“Give him a chance to show us what he feels like he can’t show us. I have to imagine that former (FBI Director Robert) Mueller wrote the report with an eye towards it being public some day, so I can’t imagine a lot needs to be cut out of it. But let’s wait and see. The attorney general deserves that chance.”

But on the obstruction issue, he said:

“The attorney general’s letter doesn’t make sense in light of my experience,” Comey said. “Thousands of people are prosecuted in this country every year for trying to obstruct an investigation where the underlying thing that was being investigated doesn’t end up proven.”

 

Ex-Prosecutor Who Was General Counsel to White House Says Congress Should Get Unredacted Mueller Report

Nelson Cunningham (Linkedin photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Nelson Cunningham is no stranger to federal law enforcement or Capitol Hill. He served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudy Giuliani and was general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under chair, Sen. Joseph Biden. And oh yes, he was general counsel of the White House under Bill Clinton.

Now, he’s jumping into the debate over the Mueller report, saying Congress should get it unredacted.

In a column in Politico he writes:

Attorney General William Barr is right: For public release of the Mueller report, he has no choice but to redact classified information, and also grand jury information pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e). It’s not optional — it’s the law, designed to protect both the secrecy of grand jury proceedings and our nation’s security.

But those of us who have pored over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s earlier court filings know that redacted documents are not just hard to read, they are almost impossible to understand or to comprehend. In other words, they will absolutely not satisfy the public cry for information.

Congressional Democrats are right to demand the full report – but they are wrong to ask the attorney general to violate the law. Instead, they should learn from the lessons of Watergate and the example of Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski and House Judiciary Chair Peter Rodino. They should demand the full report but only for their own use. They should use it as a road map for their own investigation. And they should not wait.

 

James Comey for President in 2020?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

James Comey for president in 2020?

Well, that’s what the former FBI director suggested in a tweet. Then again, it was April Fools Day and yes, he was just having some fun.

LGBT Workers Claim They’re Facing Increasingly Hostile Environment At Justice Department

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department, which enforces civil rights laws, is facing a battle within.

The department has grown increasingly hostile toward its own LGBT workers, causing top talent to quit as they experience discrimination and “declining morale,” according to a group of LGBT employees who confronted Attorney General Bill Barr in a letter this week, BuzzFeed reports.

The group DOJ Pride, which represents thousands of employees at the agency, cites its internal survey of LGBT workers who find it “demoralizing” that officials have failed to issue a statement guaranteeing protection from harassment at the Justice Department, BuzzFeed writes.

“I am leaving the DOJ in part due to the DOJ’s treatment of its LGBTQ employees,” one worker said in the October survey, while another complained, “The DOJ is no longer the welcoming, inclusive environment for LGBTQ employees that it once was.”